The Concours d’Elegance has a French origin but now comes in various forms. One of them had been concluded last month in Pebble Beach wherein we saw an expansive set of car launches.
In Michigan, the Detroit Concours d’Elegance is happening this weekend. But unlike the typical posh and extravagant show during Concours, this one is happening on the streets of Detroit. And for this year, the show is dedicated to one of the most influential designers that have made an impact on the auto industry.
We’re talking about the legendary General Motors design chief, Harley Earl, and for the Concours, four of his iconic works – all part of the GM Heritage Center’s permanent private collection – will join the celebration. Just like an illicit relationship, these cars are rarely seen together in public, which will happen on September 18, 2022, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
1920 Cadillac Type 59C
Earl’s work as a designer started in Los Angeles by creating custom bodywork for wealthy clients at his family’s business, Earl Automobile Works. It was then acquired by California Cadillac distributor Don Lee and rebranded to Don Lee Coach and Body Works.
One of Earl’s early works was this: a blue-and-black Cadillac Type 59C coachbuilt sedan.
1927 LaSalle Series 303
In line with the then Cadillac President Lawrence Fisher’s task to launch the LaSalle brand, Earl was hired to give the brand visual panache in line with the custom work he was doing in California. The product was the 1927 LaSalle Series 303, which was inspired by the Hispano-Suiza.
It was then that GM hired Earl to lead the newly created Art and Colour Section division, which continued on and has become the GM Design of today.
1938 Buick Y-Job Concept
The Buick Y-Job was celebrated as the auto industry’s first concept car. It was Earl’s interpretation of the future of automotive design, and also served as Earl’s personal vehicle for over a decade. The Y-Job looked like nothing else during its time and established a design benchmark for General Motors.
In 2016, the Y-Job was enshrined in the National Historic Vehicle Register.
1951 General Motors LeSabre Concept
The GM LeSabre Concept was considered to be Earl’s greatest work. Its styling was inspired by jet aircraft design, hence, its name derived from the first supersonic fighter jet. The body was made from aluminum, magnesium, and fiberglass, and was GM’s centerpiece of the show circuit.
Just like the Y-Job, the LeSabre became Earl’s personal vehicle.